I'm back again, keeping my word and trying to make sure that I write a bit about my trip to India. Hehe.
The Taj Mahal, under construction edition!
So for first timers, there is no doubt that travelling to India can be a major culture shock. You might have heard the rumours, it can be one of the most mentally and physically exhausting. Penat kena tipu satu hal, penat melayan semua orang nak TA YA PA (tips!) pun satu hal jugak. Nothing is free okay in India. You even have to pay even when a guy walks you to your room. Motif? Not that we requested such services pun. Ish.
Anyhow, it gets easier once you get used to India and know what to expect. So the keyword, you have to prepare and expect the unexpected. Haha.
The right preparations can make your first trip to India is memorable for all the right reasons.
Start researching where to go and when to travel
I used to plan my trip extensively over the years but it changed gradually. And now, I prefer to stay flexible and not to over plan. Reason being, you will never know what will be going to happen.
But as I said, this in India. Travelling here can be challenging so I think it's a good idea to at least research where and when you want to visit. And maybe try to plan a rough route around the main attractions.
Introducing from left, Nini, yours truly, Helmi (Fana's shuben) and Fana. Bukan acah-acah naik kuda, tapi betul-betul kena naik! Up and down the hills, mampoo? Siap ada yang terjatuh, hiks. Anyway shooo bushuk all of us bau kudaaa hahaha.
India really is huge and somehow quite difficult to decide where to go, especially if you've got time constraints, which unfortunately most people do have. Tapi being Malaysian, I guess our places of interest would be almost the same. Haha. Kan? Especially for first timers. The Golden Triangle (Agra, Delhi, Jaipur) which is a must, and Kashmir (Srinagar, Sonamarg, Pahalgam, Gulmarg).
Our highlight of the trip is none other but Kashmir and we even decided to visit Kashmir alone at first but ditched that idea pretty quickly. Hello. Kau pergi India, tak pergi Taj Mahal? Haha. Cannot be. One of 7 wonders. Too bad Taj Mahal is currently under refurbishment, If your sole purpose to India is to visit Taj Mahal, then perhaps you should consider coming in a few months time. Kalau tak, merasalah tengok under construction edition sajork.
From my experience I think the best time to visit India is really in the winter (from November to February). Cooler temperatures make travelling more pleasant. And takde bau keti sangat. Hiks. Tapi if you wanted to visit areas macam dalam cerita 3 Idiots (Leh, Ladakh and Manali), the best time to do this is in the summer. Winter would be too cold and they even close the road from October till April FYI. So, plan wisely.
Book your flights
Then of course, book your flight and let the countdown begins.
We initially planned to travel with Malaysia Airlines (#taknakkalah, hiks) and decided to buy our tickets during Matta Fair in September 2015, but the price was super expensive. Mahal nau nau, almost RM1,800! (KUL-DEL-KUL). Lupakan je lah niat tu.
So, Plan B kicked in.
We then met at Gloria Jeans Damansara and searched for the best deals on Skyscanner. The cheapest option was from KL to Chennai and the return ticket was around RM1,000 (luggage and meal inclusive).
Well, not that cheap but considering the ticket was bought super last minute, pejam mata je lah. And we bought our domestic flights within India too. Chennai - Srinagar, Srinagar - Delhi and Delhi - Chennai. Total dalam RM1,000 jugak. So tambah tolak flight tickets je nearly RM2k. Sobs.
But we had a bigggggg problem after that.
Oh no!! Why oh why? Soooo breaking news! Our departure time is less than 2 weeks and now Chennai under water? And was that a plane? Haha. Haih stress.
And they were right.
Book your trains
Please, please, please, book early to secure your seat. The advance booking for Indian train ticket opens 120 days before the date of journey. We booked 2 months in advance but please be mindful that by just having a ticket does not guarantee your journey is confirmed.
Well, this is India. It all depends on the ticket status. And our ticket status shows "RLWL", Remote Location Waiting List! You will get the confirmation whether your status is confirmed or not on the day of the journey itself, to be exact 4 hours before departure time! Crazy. Macam nak pengsan. We were travelling during super peak period, Christmas time okeh! 3 kali naik train, 3 kali berdoa tak sudah. Haha.
And some people macam take advantage of our situation and paksa suruh ambik service dia all inclusive kereta dengan driver and tourist guide siapppp. No way man, aku akan ingat kau Rashid! Rashid Ajanta Hotel, sila berhati-hati dengan mamat ni. Gerammm. Hahaha.
If you need my user name and password for IRCTC website, please email me. I'd be glad to help. Sangat renyah benda ni.
Anyway, we survived. Hehe.
Book your accomodation
Houseboat Lily of Nageen, Srinagar
This one is self-explanatory. Hehe. Basically murah je accommodation kat India ni. Affordable. Pilih je mana nak according to your preferences. Nak dekat train station ke, nak cantek ke nak review okay ke, up to you. Janji boleh tidur je konsepnya. Yang penting kena yaqeen bersih! Haha, Kalau non-yaqeen, amekla hotel lain okay. Hiks.
Get your visa
I did the easiest way but of course I had to pay extra for my visa. Haha. Malas nak baca instructions punya pasal. Hiks. So I went to this address:
G-01, Straits Trading Building
Cubaan meniru style mek Lopa. Hahaha. Till then and good night!